In modern business, if something is important, it is almost always supported by technology. Sales and service teams use a CRM or ticket tracking system. Health care providers use an electronic health record and patient management system. Inventory is managed in an ERP. You get the idea. Things that really matter to the business are supported by technology that tracks what has happened, ensures that things that need to happen in the future get done, and allows managers to report easily on key performance indicators.
We’d argue that Lean leadership is no less important than other central functions of business and that, therefore, it should also be managed in a software solution designed to help the organization reach its goals of continuous improvement and waste reduction.
People don’t always associate leadership with technology, but they actually can go hand in hand. Here are a few ways that software can enhance the efforts of Lean leaders.
Businesses are full of moving parts, and things change rapidly. It is rare that one person can have a good idea about what is going on in all parts of a company. Lean leadership software provides a dashboard so that executives and managers can easily visualize the health of their lean efforts and progress toward goals without a bunch of meetings or back and forth emails.
Organizations don’t embrace Lean for the sake of Lean. They do it to meet specific goals and objectives. Most organizations can’t implement every opportunity for improvement (though those with a strong improvement culture succeed in implementing over 80% of theirs), so it is important to select the ideas that contribute to the achievement of the primary strategic goals. With the right technology in place, the goals of every individual, team and department can be aligned with the overall objectives to ensure that improvement effort is being applied where it can be most impactful.
By now everyone’s probably heard that if you drop a frog into hot water, he’ll jump right out, but if you put him in cool water and slowly raise the temperature, he won’t realize that he’s being boiled. (I wonder if anyone has tried this. I hope not.) Problems in companies are similar. If a massive crisis happens, everyone acts immediately, and the problem is most often solved. But if a problem starts out small and gets worse slowly, people tend to get used to it or implement workarounds that don’t address the root cause. It’s amazing what people can learn to live with if they don’t think they have a choice.
Lean leadership software works as an early warning system. Capturing ideas for improvement from every employee brings issues to light early. Leaders can be on the lookout for the types of problems that tend to take hold, turning into business as usual in a very bad way.
Lean isn’t something to be approached haphazardly. It should be handled with the same care and thoughtfulness as the other core business functions. Technology can go a long way toward ensuring that your objectives are met and that you really do have command and control of your improvement efforts.
Learn more about Lean leadership in this free webinar: